Duality can be seen as the hidden focus of the University of North Alabama. Our motto, our mascots, even our primary hues peer into the idea of two halves of a mouth, both liable to the other. Each unable to survive without the alternative prospect out of the two. We’ve been told all our lives to hold on to that opposite half of the puzzle we eventually find, whatever it may be. UNA’s fourth annual color run event takes hold of that puzzle with two polar halves of fitness and fun, for the vernal month of April.
Florence is home to this wonderful attraction of up to six-hundred people across the local area. From grandparents and children, to the football team and nursing school students, anyone is welcome to join in on the fun. If the color run is the heart of the event, then the woman behind it represents the life breathed into it. UNA’s head of Athletic Development Megan Lovelace lays down some perspective about her prominent brainchild. “It’s created for anybody,” said Megan. Her vision for this event is to provide a haven for everyone that is interested by crafting a unique spin on a popular activity that has swept the whole country, and placing it into the heart of Florence. “That’s the one thing I love about it, is that when you’re standing there and you watch these six-hundred people take off, you see such of variety of people out there,” she said.
The primary appeal behind the UNA Color Run is that it is not timed. “Originally when we first put it together, I thought I would time it,” said Megan.
This is when she saw a common theme between all of the events. “The more I researched these color runs, I noticed people really do the color runs to get out there for fun,“ she said. The fact that everyone will get a chance to enjoy themselves while at the run is the most important part for her. “There’s no stress since it is not timed, so it’s made for anybody. We’ve had someone do it on crutches one year,” said Megan. Freedom to choose when to finish the run removes any obstacles for enjoyment and self-fulfillment for the course of the five-mile run. “I want people to have fun and not feel pressured to get a certain time. I want it to be open for anybody,” she said. “While it’s the distance of a five-mile, you are not going to be timed for a five-mile. It’s a color run!”
The UNA Color Run currently holds the title of one the Athletic Department’s largest events of the season, with all profits from it used to help fund student athletes. With a huge event like this, it can be hard to wonder all of the time and precaution beforehand that makes everything work. “Our student athletes and staff do a great job of getting out there to help me, but all of the days that lead up to it can be crazy,” said Megan. To her, the true work is hidden in the smaller pieces that lead up to the event day. “It’s just making sure not to lose any tiny detail just in case,” said Megan. “The first year was really crazy, just because it was the unknown.”
Megan’s knack for a creating a bond between a whole community is only outdone by her ability to stay ahead, despite the circumstances that come with her career. “There’s a lot that goes into it that people do not realize,” said Megan. “When you get in the world of special events that energy becomes part of it, and I love it,” Her initial purpose behind the color run event is more relaxed than most would think. “It’s more-so just about getting people out to a family friendly event, interact with the student athletes who work the color stations, and most of all to bring in some UNA spirit,” she said. “It’s really cool when you get out there and see six-hundred people covered from head to toe in purple and yellow. It really makes a bold statement. It’s just as much for the community as it is the school.”
In the next few weeks, the city of Florence will see just how possible it is for people from all different aspects of life to meet up for one common goal; fun. Despite the sweat, everyone there will have reason to run. Whether it be to improve a life, help a friend, or spend some time with family, the end of the finish line won’t seem so hard with people to cheer each other on. Every little instance turns clearer as all of the colors bleed from the hand, an illustration of a community that will travel with one another over a cohesive two-color torrent of purple and yellow. For more info about the UNA Color Run, you can visit their official website at roarlions.com/colorun, and hit their follow or like button on the respective Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for UNA Athletics.